Friday, April 15, 2011
Gender Identity, Columnists, Made-Up News, and Pink Nail Polish, Oh My!
While researching my media bias project, I came across an article discussing the "controversy" over a recent J Crew ad campaign that featured artistic director Jenna Lyons playing with her 5-year-old son who was -- gasp!-- wearing pink nail polish on his toes. I laughed at the article, with its made-up controversy and just ridiculousness--and assumed that it would go no farther than that. Apparently the next day Fox news columnist Dr. Keith Ablow posted this column about the horrific pink nail polish incident, in which he compares Jenna painting her son's toenails pink (at his request, while playing dressup) to children undergoing sex change surgeries and black people dying their skin white. He writes, "These folks are hostile to the gender distinctions that are actually part of the magnificient synergy that creates and sustains the human race. They respect their own creative notions a lot more than any creative Force in the universe." Ok, one guy writes an inflammatory column with his personal opinion - fine. But it ends here, right? Or not. LA Times. New York Magazine. CBS News. Chicago Tribune. The Daily Show. All using words like "outrage" "controversy" "sparks debate" "panic" - all designed to make you think something outrageous was going on (Jon Stewart pointed out that one of the headlines was "See what J Crew director Jenna Lyons has done to her son" - which sounds A LOT worse than pink nail polish!) All of this from a few swipes of pink paint on a little boy's toes. To be fair, many of these news outlets were criticizing Ablow and the other people quoted in the original Fox report for making such a big deal out of it - but it was all done carefully to provoke maximum scandal attention and make it seem like a much bigger deal than the non-issue is really is. Before you know it, a week has gone by, the little boy has long since gone back to playing with his toy trucks and throwing things at his brother and the news cycle is still spinning itself into a frenzy over his precious gender identity.